Did Mary & Joseph have children?

Before answering this question. Please read this explanation to the very end. Also, please do not try to direct me to another Web site. I want to know what YOU think, & when you respond, please base your conclusion using Holy Scripture, NOT the beliefs of church leaders or the early church fathers. I say this, because since Holy Scripture is Inspired (God breathed), then Holy Scripture CAN’T be wrong, because we KNOW it is from God. Thank you in advance, & I look forward to your responses, & encourage you to carefully consider mine. In Christ, Steve.

Having been raised Catholic & having studied the Scriptures, I have come to the conclusion that ‘the Word of the Lord’ (the Bible) supports the belief that the ‘brothers & sisters’ of Jesus in Matthew 12:46-50 & Matthew 13:54-57 are Jesus’ half-brothers & sisters, & NOT referring to His disciples, cousins, step-brothers & step-sisters, or ‘spiritual’ brothers & sisters:

First, Matthew 13:54-57 gives us their names: James, Joses (Joseph), Simon, & Judas (Jude). They are clearly brothers, since they are part of a family unit, along with their father, ‘the carpenter’ (Joseph) & Mary, their mother.

Second, at the cross, Mary the wife of Alphaeus (aka: Clopas), who is the mother of James the Less & Joses (Joseph) are mentioned (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25-27). James is the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3). However, James & Joseph are never paired in Scripture as ‘brothers’ of Simon & Judas (Jude). So, they are ‘not’ the ‘James & Joseph’ in Matthew 13:54-57.

Third, at the cross Salome (Mark 15:40) is the sister of Jesus’ mother (Mary) (John 19:25-27) & the mother of Zebedee’s sons (Matthew 27:55-56). Zebedee’s sons are James & John (Mark 10:35). However, James & John are never paired in Scripture as ‘brothers’ of Simon & Judas (Jude). So, this ‘James’ is ‘not’ the same ‘James’ in Matthew 13:54-57.

Third, since the ‘James’ who is the ‘son of Mary & Zebedee’ & since the ‘James & Joses (Joseph)’ who are the sons of ‘Mary & Alphaeus (Clopas)’ are NOT the same ‘James & Joses (Joseph)’ who are the brothers of Simon & Judas (Jude) in Matthew 13:54-57, then these ‘brothers’ in this verse are sons of Mary & Joseph, & are Jesus’ half-brothers.

Fourth, in Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus compares His ‘believing brothers’ by pointing to his disciples INSIDE, with His ‘non-believing brothers’ OUTSIDE (compare to John 7:3-5 & Psalm 69:8).

Fifth, Jesus makes a distinction between His brothers & His BELIEVING disciples (John 2:12).

Sixth, in Acts 1:13-14, Luke names the remaining 11 disciples along with Jesus’ brothers, who are with Mary & the women. Collectively, they are all ‘part’ of the ‘120 brethren’ at Pentecost.

Seventh, in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Jesus appears to Cephas (aka: Peter) & then to ‘The 12’ (Disciples)(v.5), then Jesus appears to James, then to all the apostles (v.7). ‘Apostles’ does not refer to ‘The 12,’ because ‘apostles’ simply mean ‘messengers’ or ‘sent ones,’ & can refer to people other than ‘The 12,’ such as Barnabas & Paul (Acts 14:14). Therefore, since this ‘James’ does not refer to ‘The 12,’ but ‘another James,’ then this ‘James’ is the brother of Joseph, Simon, & Judas (Jude) in Matthew 13:54-57.

Eighth, these ‘brothers’ in Matthew 13:54-57 aren’t Jesus’ cousins, because the Greek words for ‘cousins’ (‘synggenes’ & ‘anepsios’) used in Luke 1:36 & Colossians 4:10 are not used in Matthew 13:54-57, or anywhere else by Jesus to give us the impression that His ‘brothers’ in this verse are actually His cousins.

Ninth, the Greek word for ‘brothers’ & ‘sisters’ (adelphos & adelphe) can mean LITERAL blood brothers & sisters, such as James the BROTHER (adelphos) of John, & Martha & Mary the SISTERS (adelphe) of Lazarus.

Tenth, Paul names James as ‘the Lord’s brother’ (Galatians 1:19), who is with the other 2 ‘Pillars’ of the Church – Cephas (Peter) & John (Galatians 2:9). This ‘James’ is the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1), who wrote the Epistle of Jude. This ‘James’ went on to write the Epistle of James (James 1:1). This ‘James’ was the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 15:13), but was not James, the brother of John, because he was already martyred (Acts 12:2). Therefore, this ‘James & Jude (Judas)’ are the same ‘James & Judas (Jude)’ in Matthew 13:54-57, who were also brothers of Joses (Joseph) & Simon, & half-brothers of Jesus.

So, using the Word of the Lord (the Bible), which cannot be wrong, & comparing it to church tradition (which ‘can’ be wrong), the most correct understanding of Jesus’ ‘brothers & sisters’ in Matthew 13:54-57 is that they were his LITERAL half-brothers & sisters. Therefore, Joseph kept Mary a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1:24-25), & then had at least 6 children together (4 sons & at least 2 ‘unnamed’ daughters).

Sorry, I won’t play on your terms. We’re adults, we can disagree but if you’re going to tell me “you can’t use your basis for faith to argue, because I already reject it” then I’m going to treat you the same way:

Don’t use your personal interpretation of scripture to challenge me, because you can be (in this case, are) wrong.

“I think” the words of scripture are correct, it is just your interpretation that is wrong.

That is understandable given that you don’t have the benefit of the Holy Spirit keeping you free of error as Christ promised, as does Holy Mother Church and her “Church Fathers” (whom you reject).

More’s the pity.

Did you join Catholic Answers just to post this?

What do I think? Contrary to your first statement, you never once asked a question. Therefore I have nothing to answer. But I do think you clearly know everything and are not looking for answers.

Steve, I have perused your posts and I recognize you are new to the forums. WELCOME.

You should be aware of a few things:

  1. It is against forum rules to try to proseltylize Catholics;
  2. It is against forum rules to post links to anti-Catholic sites (like CARM, which you link in another thread); and
    3 If you really want to debate the validity of Sola Scriptura (which is not in the bible), which seems to be the real basis of your position here, this is probably the wrong sub-forum. Go to the “Sacred Scripture” sub-forum and do a search for “sola scriptura”. You will find several threads

Forum Rules:


I don’t know everything. But, what I do know, & what we can agree on, is that the Bible is the Word of God, which we can be assured that everything it says is true, which is why I believe from the Biblical languages that Jesus had half-brothers & sisters. What I am looking for is to see if the claims of Catholics are true when they say that they believe the Bible is the Word of the Lord. As a former Catholic, I was taught that. I wanted to see if that was true or not.

Do you follow baseball at all?

Welcome to CAF Steve! I hope you will find what you are looking for while you are here and I pray that God bless you immensely in your pursuit for truth.

You’re not likely to get too many responses (at least the ones I assume you are looking for) for many of the reasons already mentioned. However, this particular topic has been discussed many times at this forum. This is certainly not a new argument and I would suggest using the “search” function, especially within the “Ask An Apologist” subforum. You will find this specific topic, as well as many others, have been debated, discussed, examined, deliberated, and expounded upon over and over again. From these answers you should be able to discern the Catholic position on this, and probably many other subjects in which you are inquiring.

May God bless you my friend and again, Welcome to CAF!

BornAgainRN joined CAF today to proselytize. Started doing so shortly before noon today.

There is nothing wrong with that, but just be aware that He is a Born Again Christian by His own admission and as of the time I write this, has posted the about 15 posts, most of which are jumps into the middle of threads about Mary to posit the standard Evangelical and non-deomoninational arguments.

Jesus had brother’s and sisters and therefor Mary was not a perpetual virgin.

Mary is no more than than the human Mother of Jesus, worthy of respect for being the Mother of Jesus, but nothing more.

John who Jesus entrusted Mary to from the Cross was Jesus’ cousin.



Thanks for the welcome. Yes, I am a new member, & I am new at this. Not intentionally meaning to try to purposely break forum rules. I have been on Christian forums in the past that don’t restrict linking to Christian sites, & don’t restrict posts on Sola Scriptura or using church beliefs. I guess I am still learning & kind of surprised that using Scripture to support my view would be considered ‘proselytizing.’ Thank you for the sub-forum link. :slight_smile: But, do the same ‘restrictions’ using Scripture apply there as well.

I guess my question based on Scripture - God’s Holy Word - is: am I wrong for believing that Mary & Joseph had children? As Christians, isn’t truth the thing we should be seeking above all else, in better understanding our relationship with Jesus Christ? Thanks for the feedback. God bless you in Jesus’ Name, Steve.

When interpreting Scripture on your own, recall Gerswhin’s song, “Anything Goes.” :smiley:

It has long been a supposition that Joseph was a widower who had children from his first wife. That could possibly explain it.

***Moved this thread to Apologetics where it correctly belongs.

Welcome to CAF!

You don’t mess w/ The Blessed Mother in these here parts. :wink:

This topic has been discussed many times and the myth Mary had other children. Show me one place in scripture where it states explicitly Mary gave birth to a total of six children?

:smiley: well said! :thumbsup:

To answer your original post (flawed as its premises are), the proof that Mary had no other children is the fact that after the crucifixion she stayed the rest of her life in the house of an unrelated male. Had she had other children this would not, could not have happened.

Neither the Gospel accounts nor the early Christians attest to the notion that Mary bore other children besides Jesus. The faithful knew, through the witness of Scripture and Tradition, that Jesus was Mary’s only child and that she remained a lifelong virgin.
An important historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James, which was written probably less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many.
According to the world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: “The principal aim of the whole writing *Protoevangelium of James] *is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ” (Patrology, 1:120–1).
To begin with, the Protoevangelium records that when Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity.
However, due to considerations of ceremonial cleanliness, it was eventually necessary for Mary, a consecrated “virgin of the Lord,” to have a guardian or protector who would respect her vow of virginity. Thus, according to the Protoevangelium, Joseph, an elderly widower who already had children, was chosen to be her spouse. (This would also explain why Joseph was apparently dead by the time of Jesus’ adult ministry, since he does not appear during it in the gospels, and since Mary is entrusted to John, rather than to her husband Joseph, at the crucifixion).
According to the Protoevangelium, Joseph was required to regard Mary’s vow of virginity with the utmost respect. The gravity of his responsibility as the guardian of a virgin was indicated by the fact that, when she was discovered to be with child, he had to answer to the Temple authorities, who thought him guilty of defiling a virgin of the Lord. Mary was also accused of having forsaken the Lord by breaking her vow. Keeping this in mind, it is an incredible insult to the Blessed Virgin to say that she broke her vow by bearing children other than her Lord and God, who was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with the biblical references to Christ’s brethren through a proper understanding of the meaning of the term “brethren.” The understanding that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus’ stepbrothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome (fourth century). It was Jerome who introduced the possibility that Christ’s brethren were actually his cousins, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as “brethren.” The Catholic Church allows the faithful to hold either view, since both are compatible with the reality of Mary’s perpetual virginity.
Today most Protestants are unaware of these early beliefs regarding Mary’s virginity and the proper interpretation of “the brethren of the Lord.” And yet, the Protestant Reformers themselves—Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli—honored the perpetual virginity of Mary and recognized it as the teaching of the Bible, as have other, more modern Protestants

What verse names anyone, other then the Lord Jesus, as the child of Mary?

There are about ten instances in the New Testament where “brothers” and “sisters” of the Lord are mentioned (Matt. 12:46; Matt. 13:55; Mark 3:31–34; Mark 6:3; Luke 8:19–20; John 2:12, 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5).

When trying to understand these verses, note that the term “brother” (Greek: adelphos) has a wide meaning in the Bible. It is not restricted to the literal meaning of a full brother or half-brother. The same goes for “sister” (adelphe) and the plural form “brothers” (adelphoi). The Old Testament shows that “brother” had a wide semantic range of meaning and could refer to any male relative from whom you are not descended (male relatives from whom you are descended are known as “fathers”) and who are not descended from you (your male descendants, regardless of the number of generations removed, are your “sons”), as well as kinsmen such as cousins, those who are members of the family by marriage or by law rather than by blood, and even friends or mere political allies (2 Sam. 1:26; Amos 1:9).
Lot, for example, is called Abraham’s “brother” (Gen. 14:14), even though, being the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother (Gen. 11:26–28), he was actually Abraham’s nephew. Similarly, Jacob is called the “brother” of his uncle Laban (Gen. 29:15). Kish and Eleazar were the sons of Mahli. Kish had sons of his own, but Eleazar had no sons, only daughters, who married their “brethren,” the sons of Kish. These “brethren” were really their cousins (1 Chr. 23:21–22).
The terms “brothers,” “brother,” and “sister” did not refer only to close relatives. Sometimes they meant kinsmen (Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:9), as in the reference to the forty-two “brethren” of King Azariah (2 Kgs. 10:13–14).

Because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ and his disciples) had a special word meaning “cousin,” speakers of those languages could use either the word for “brother” or a circumlocution, such as “the son of my uncle.” But circumlocutions are clumsy, so the Jews often used “brother.”
The writers of the New Testament were brought up using the Aramaic equivalent of “brothers” to mean both cousins and sons of the same father—plus other relatives and even non-relatives. When they wrote in Greek, they did the same thing the translators of the Septuagint did. (The Septuagint was the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible; it was translated by Hellenistic Jews a century or two before Christ’s birth and was the version of the Bible from which most of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are taken.)
In the Septuagint the Hebrew word that includes both brothers and cousins was translated as adelphos, which in Greek usually has the narrow meaning that the English “brother” has. Unlike Hebrew or Aramaic, Greek has a separate word for cousin, anepsios, but the translators of the Septuagint used adelphos, even for true cousins.
You might say they transliterated instead of translated, importing the Jewish idiom into the Greek Bible. They took an exact equivalent of the Hebrew word for “brother” and did not use* adelphos*in one place (for sons of the same parents), and anepsios in another (for cousins). This same usage was employed by the writers of the New Testament and passed into English translations of the Bible. To determine what “brethren” or “brother” or “sister” means in any one verse, we have to look at the context. When we do that, we see that insuperable problems arise if we assume that Mary had children other than Jesus.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive a son, she asked, “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34). From the Church’s earliest days, as the Fathers interpreted this Bible passage, Mary’s question was taken to mean that she had made a vow of lifelong virginity, even in marriage. (This was not common, but neither was it unheard of.) If she had not taken such a vow, the question would make no sense.
Mary knew how babies are made (otherwise she wouldn’t have asked the question she did). If she had anticipated having children in the normal way and did not intend to maintain a vow of virginity, she would hardly have to ask “how” she was to have a child, since conceiving a child in the “normal” way would be expected by a newlywed wife. Her question makes sense only if there was an apparent (but not a real) conflict between keeping a vow of virginity and acceding to the angel’s request. A careful look at the New Testament shows that Mary kept her vow of virginity and never had any children other than Jesus.

(cont. next post)

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